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Should the icons be created in bitmap or vector format?

A bitmap image (like GIF, PNG, TIFF, etc.) consists of pixel-based graphic information. Pixels (constriction for "picture element") are the smallest dots of light that make up your computer screen. A 24x24 pixel icon representing a plain red square is actually composed of 576 separate pixels, each described by little bits of numeric data in a graphic file. A bigger image requires more pixels, causing more binary information, and a greater file size as a resilt.
A vector graphic file (such as EPS, SVG, etc.) consists of mathematical-based information. A vector file containing a red square sized to 24x24 pixels would simply contain numeric datd describing the mathematical location of the square's four corners, information about the color the square is filled with, and information defining the size of the square to be 24x24 pixels on the monitor. Basically our red square in vector format only needs about six tiny bits of data as opposed to our 576 bits of information taken up by our red square created in bitmap.
The explanation is actually a bit more complex than it's described, but you understand the general idea: Modifying the size of a vector image file from 24x24 to 48x48 only requires the editing of one bit of data (the dimensions). The math does the rest. However, modifying the size of a bitmap image file from 24x24 takes the addition of 1728 more pixels, resulting in a larger file size.
That means one single vector file may be used to represent it's content at multiple sizes, while a bitmap file may only clearly represent its only pre-defined pixel size.
So if a vector file can scale and shrink to represent any size it needs, why would the icon desigers choose bitmap format for their creations?
If you look at the same icon, created in both bitmap and vector formats, you will see that the bitmap one is clean and sleek, with even 1-pixel lines sharply defined. While all the images that had been scaled from the vector file look blurry.
This happens because, although vector files can be scaled to every size, there is a flaw in them This weakness is more apparent at small sizes. Especially resolutions under 48x48 pixels. The weakness is that computer screens still consist of pixels, which means they ae bitmap-based.
When you have a vector image, originally sized at 24x24 and shrink it down to 16x16, the relative proportions do not match. There's no way you can evenly distribute 24 pixels of data into 16 pixels of space because, there's no such thing as half a pixel. So the image blurs.
There's also no chance you can evenly resize 24 pixels of information upwards into 32 pixels of space. The image blures once again.
Furthermore, if you have that same vector image, initially sized at 24x24 and size it up to 48x48, you're now doubling the proportions. Now you don't have sharp 1-pixel details. You have chunky 2-pixel lines. Scale it up bigger (to 96x96, for instance) and the lines will become even thicker.
There are a few caveats: First, if you're working with larger icon sizes (for example, bigger then 48x48) you're not going to notice the difference as much, and you may find the results acceptable. Second, your mileage will vary as you design different types of artwork. The less-detailed your linework is, the less you will need to worry about this.

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